March 30, 2021: The story of the Lahore Diamond Necklace is as the name suggests, steeped in colonial occupation era.
The Coronation Necklace and Earrings are an important set in the Queen’s collection not just because of overall diamond weight but because of historical significance.
The necklace was created for Queen Victoria in 1858 by her husband Prince Albert, in whose taste she had explicit trust, has since been worn by queens for every coronation after Queen Victoria’s death, hence the name.
The Queen had this necklace made in 1858 from 28 stones that she had removed from Garter Badge and a ceremonial sword, also from Lahore.
The necklace added up-to 161 carats, making it the most expensive necklace in the world with nine largest stones weighing between 8 and 11 carats and the pendant stone, weighing 22.5 carat (cut down from original 103 carat). It currently has 26 stones: 25 in the necklace itself, plus the 22.48 carat Lahore Diamond as a pendant.
The Queen usually wears the set together for formal events like the State Opening of Parliament and state dinners and for portraits.
But what is the real story behind the splendid royal jewels? The necklace that Queens/ Queen Consorts of United Kingdom wear on special state events has a colonial history rooted within the subcontinent. In fact, the official name of the Necklace is The Lahore Necklace or the Lahore pendant.
The story of the necklace began when the British breached the Lahore Fort in 1849 and found a treasure more valuable than anything they had “acquired” before.
The history of and the subsequent attempts to repatriate the Kohinoor diamond are well documented but there was a lot more the colonial invading force acquired.
The ‘Toshakhana’ treasures were catalogued by Dr. John Login, the Administrator of the fort. The gems “recovered” by the East India Company include; five bags of diamonds, 134 large gharras of gold jewelry and precious stones, a whole store of expensive and rare Cashmere shawls and choghas, relics of Holy Prophet (pbuh) (including his shoes, walking stick, shirt, cap as well as several locks of his hair). These, to name a few of the treasures that were taken from the fort. The actual quantity and quality may never be discovered if the items have entered private collections or were not documented at the time.
That batch of “acquired” jewels was the source of the Lahore diamond necklace made for Queen Victoria.
To date this necklace is among the most expensive necklaces in the world.
So every time the Queen of England steps out in all her royalty for state functions adorning the Lahore Diamond necklace, you will know the origins of the jewels and can indulge in some self satisfaction.
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